The Terminal State

Although this is the fourth installment following Avery Cates misadventures, I still get the feeling that basically nobody has heard of Jeff Somers. Which is a pity, really, as these books are balls-to-the-wall joyrides! So please do yourself a favor and read The Electric Church (Canada, USA, Europe), The Digital Plague (Canada, USA, Europe), and The Eternal Prison (Canada, USA, Europe). You won't regret it!

If it ain't broken, don't try to fix it, as the saying goes. As was the case with the first three volumes, the author produced yet another noir techno-thriller set in a futuristic dystopian Earth. Somers came up with a pedal-to-the-metal entertaining yarn featuring a high bodycount, as is usually his wont.

Here's the blurb:

Avery Cates is an army man. Between the army's new dental plan and a set of first class augments, he's been given a second chance - albeit a quick one.

When a corrupt officer decides to make some money on the side by selling new recruits, Cates finds himself in uncharted territory. Sold to the highest bidder, his visions of escape and revenge quickly come to an end when he realizes who's bought him - and for what. Because the high bidder is Canny Orel himself. And he wants Cates to do one last job as the System slides into chaos. Cates will have one shot at getting back at Canny - but this time, Canny is holding all the cards.

You couldn't talk it over; you couldn't discuss shit. Discussion
was for pussies, and pussies got fucked over. The world might be falling apart
but there were rules that lasted forever

With The Eternal Prison, I felt that Jeff Somers had matured as an author. The novel had more depth, and it seemed that he was willing to challenge himself with more multilayered storylines. The same could be said of The Terminal State, which brings back elements from all three of its predecessors. Moreover, it's the first book which features something that could be construed as an overall story arc. Indeed, The Terminal State is the first installment which is not a self-contained tale. Though there is resolution of a sort at the end of the novel, it appears that the various plotlines will reach their culmination in the forthcoming The Final Evolution. Or beyond.

Avery Cates being who he is, although this tale resounds with more depth and shows that there might be more going on than meets the eye, The Terminal State remains a shoot-them-all and take-no-prioner kind of book. Yet one doesn't have to scratch far beneath the surface to realize that there is a much more ambitious story arc behind the uncompromising attitude and all those dead bodies. The God augment plotline is ample evidence of that. Which bodes well for future installments.

As was the case in previous Avery Cates books, the post-apocalyptic worldbuilding is a neat touch giving the series its flavor, even though it remains in the background and doesn't intrude on the story. This time around, Somers takes us to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Hong Kong.

The multilayered storylines add another dimension to The Terminal State, yet they did not influence the pace of the novel. Hence, this one remains an action-packed, kick-you-in-the-balls, shoot-to-kill, thrilling adventure. Exactly what Jeff Somers has accustomed us to since The Electric Church.

I'd had enough people want to kill me to know the one lesson they taught
you: They never gave up. Even if you half killed them, they rested, they
planned, and they came back

Yet again, the characterization remains my favorite facet of the book. The first person narrative filled with wise cracks and dark humor continues to work incredibly well and doesn't get old. And his uncanny knack to make every bad situation turn to worse and have everything go to shit around him makes him a joy to follow. Avery Cates is a despicable, manipulative, immoral, lousy, sick fuck. But I love him! For all his faults and shortcomings, it's well nigh impossible not to root for him. If you like flawed protagonists, you can't get much more flawed than Avery Cates.

I've said in the past that these books are addictive, and The Terminal State has done nothing to change that. Roll on The Final Evolution!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, AbeBooks.

3 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

great review! I loved The Electric Church (I have The Digital Plague just haven't gotten around to reading it) I have to pick up the rest of Avery Cates ASAP! :)

BryStearns said...

Great to hear! I wanted to pick this up then I found it was book 4, so I need to find the first book.

Kirshy said...

After reading this post I ran out at my lunch break and picked up a copy of Electric Church at a used book store.

Hope it's a good read. Thanks for the suggestion.